While over the years, different variations have come and gone, nothing ever quite compared to “Mean Girls.” From the lessons we learned to the insight we gained, nothing, not even Ms. Norbury’s (Tina Fey) real-talk life lessons, could have prepared me to help my tween navigate dealing with mean girls.
It’s a fact of life. Whether they’re tweens, teens, or full-grown adults, mean girls exist in real life. More likely than not, you’ll run across one, or a few, in your day-to-day life. No big deal, right? After all, we’re adults and can employ all the conflict-resolution things like communication, healthy coping strategies, and having empathy.
But when it comes to helping out tweens deal with mean girls, it’s a constant challenge between empowering them to use their problem-solving skills and keeping the mama bear claws tucked away so they can learn the important lessons. So let’s talk about a few ways to help our kiddos deal with mean girls.
Healthy Ways to Deal with Mean Girls
1. Model Empathy
It isn’t always easy to be empathetic, especially when you’re on the receiving end of someone being a jerk. People are only human, and they have bad days. Teaching your tween to lead with empathy when they encounter mean girls will help them now and in the future.
2. Set Boundaries
While empathy is a superpower, there’s a difference between being understanding and letting someone walk all over you. If your tween tells you they’ve tried being empathetic, but the mean girls are still being, well mean, make sure they’re setting boundaries. Being empathetic isn’t the same as putting your feelings second to the person you’re interacting with.
3. Empower Them To Be Assertive
Speaking of those boundaries, it’s one thing to help your kiddo set them, but it’s a whole other process to get them to enforce them. Enforcing boundaries can feel uncomfortable. But teaching your tween to stand up to mean girls and protect their peace is an important lesson. Being assertive isn’t a bad thing as long as it’s done respectfully.
4. Keep Lines Of Communication Open
Communication is key. Now, I know sometimes we’re tempted to keep it light and humorous with our tween (by not being a regular mom, but a cool mom), but there is a time and place for everything. Making sure your kiddo feels safe enough to talk to you about anything without fear or judgment will make dealing with mean girls easier for both of you.
5. Healthy Ways To Cope
Sometimes you’ll just have to cope with it, which is a life lesson within itself. Healthy ways to cope can vary of course. Some may enjoy journaling others might find positive affirmations empowering. Mean girls might be snarky and annoying but that doesn’t mean your kiddo is doing anything wrong. Recognizing that fact is incredibly powerful.
Sometimes People Suck
At the end of the day, even when your tween follows all the advice and does their best to be a good human being, sometimes people are just awful. And it’s not up to them to discover the root of their issues and try and fix them (save all that for their future therapists).
Understanding the difference between what’s in their control and what isn’t can make a world of difference when it comes to dealing with mean girls.